Mexico: The Sinaloa Drug Cartel
- 9 pages
- For Official Use Only
- Law Enforcement Sensitive
- October 28, 2010
(U) Key Findings
(U//FOUO) The powerful confederation of Mexican DTOs known as the Sinaloa cartel controls the majority of Mexico’s marijuana and methamphetamine production and distribution, as well as cocaine trafficking from South and Central American producers into the United States across the U.S. southwest border. The Sinaloa cartel conducts business with powerful U.S. gangs that largely control local drug distribution. As one of the most powerful cartels operating in Mexico, it has expanded operations throughout western Mexico and attempted to take control of new plazas from weaker organizations.* Arrests of high-level members have not fractured the cartel or caused infighting—as was the case with several of its rivals—likely because of the cartel’s stable revenue sources, decentralized structure, family-based culture, and geographic breadth, which all contribute to its preeminence.
(U//FOUO) The Sinaloa cartel has a strong foundation that limits its vulnerability. It is unique among Mexican drug cartels because of its control of significant portions of Mexico’s drug cultivation, its control of key supply and distribution networks, its reputation for corrupting high-level public officials, and its status as a syndicate of DTOs. These features have enabled the cartel to maintain power for more than 30 years. The cartel’s influence may increase if its forces in Ciudad Juarez or Baja California make significant gains, but the apparent stalemate in Ciudad Juarez and uncertain future of Sinaloa operations in Baja California suggest that serious gains or
losses are unlikely in the coming months.
(U//FOUO) Mexican officials could disrupt the Sinaloa cartel’s operations by arresting any of its principal leaders. Guzman Loera has become the priority target for U.S. and Mexican officials. The Mexican military has operated with increasing success this year. In particular, the arrest of Garcia Simental and the killing of Beltran Leyva and Coronel Villareal suggest that the Mexican Government has improved its operational capabilities. Even so, a takedown of Guzman Loera likely would cause only a short-term setback, since the Sinaloa cartel has shown the capacity to adapt quickly.